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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Few Foodie Tidbits

It's a new week and there are a few new items to note on the food frontier. I received this quarters shipment from the Jessup Cellars wine club. This shipment includes a Petite Syrah (2006), a Merlot (2005) and a Zinfindel (2003). The plan right now is to store these for a few years to let them mature. It should be interesting to see if I can resist opening those bottles for five or so years. My inclination is to open whatever is around rather than going to the store to buy a new bottle. May be for once I can resist the temptation.

I tried a new recipe tonight for dinner. This was one I came up with on my own, but it was influenced by the multitude of cooking shows I watch on a regular basis. It was very tasty and subtle in it's flavors. Here it is:

Baked Cod with Miso and Shitakes (serves four)

Four Cod fillets (approximately 2 lbs)
Two Fennel bulbs
16 ounces of chicken broth
1/8 tsp Ground Coriander
Salt and pepper to taste
1 packet of miso soup mix
1 cup water
Scallion garnish
3 fresh Dill sprigs
8 fresh shitake mushrooms
2 tsp olive oil
1 fresh lime
Sea salt

1. Sprinkle a ceramic baking dish with the olive oil. Place the cod fillets in the baking dish. Salt and pepper the fillets to taste (a small pinch on each fillet). Sprinkle the coriander on top of the fillets. Bake at 425 F for 25 minutes.

2. Remove the green parts of the fennel from each bulb. Quarter the fennel bulbs. Bring the fennel and chicken broth to a fast simmer over a medium high heat. Cook for approximately 20 minutes.

3. Slice the mushrooms thinly.

4. Bring 1 cup water to a boil. Add miso soup mix and stir. Take off heat.

5. Divide the miso soup among four large bowls. Spread the sliced mushrooms along the bottom of the bowls. Add one cod fillet to each bowl. Add two fennel quarters to each bowl. Sprinkle chopped dill and scallions over dish. Squeeze fresh lime over fish. Sprinkle a small amount of sea salt over the fish.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Winter Blahs

It's now the last week in February and the snow just keeps coming. Just when you thought you might be able to see the ground again, another four inches of the white stuff drops on our heads. The only redeeming quality by now is that it helps to cover up the dirty snow that has been building up over the winter. I love the snow blower but there's a limit to how much enjoyment I can get from power tools.

There are three very large piles of fallen branches in the back yard just waiting to be incinerated in a ball of fire. The branches are a direct result of the tree harvesting fiasco from last spring and the ice storm in December. I'm picturing next weekend to be spent with a lawn chair, a water hose, two fire extinguishers and a few cigars. This is the perfect time of year to burn all that stuff and prevent the rest of the neighborhood from burning down along with it. I'm still wondering how big a fire I could actually get going back there. If you can see the smoke from Boston call me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

life (Not) On Caffein

I confess to be an addict sort of person. I get hooked on things and then can't seem to break the habit. It's a little bit of the obsessive / compulsive that comes out in me all the time. One of my earliest addictions has been coffee.

I didn't start drinking coffee until around 1978, when I started working at my first job at Raytheon. I was an expediter, which meant I went around pushing people to do my product first before any other product was done. It was probably one of the worst jobs I ever held and I worked for one of the truly insane people in the world. Ed was a maniac. He would scream at people in the middle of the hall and have no qualms at all in making you look like you were an idiot. He would call you into his office and start throwing things against the walls. I learned early on to bring bad news to him in his office rather than in the hall and to make sure I brought him the bad news before he heard it from anyone else. It turned in to a good strategy because I was rarely embarrassed with the hallway beatings. In short order I needed a drug to help me through the day and that drug turned in to coffee.

It didn't help very much when my office was literally adjacent to the cafeteria. Any time I needed that little lift, I would step out approximately 50 paces and there would be the fresh coffee. For about two weeks I took it with cream and sugar, but that stopped when I realized I didn't really need the calories. Since then I have ranged between 2 to 3 cups of coffee a day for over thirty years. Let's leave my love for espresso out of this particular tome.

As the years have passed I find myself sleeping less soundly at night. I'm not the most easy going person in the world and I also tend be a little high strung. Last Thursday I finally switched to decaf. I found a decent bold blend from Starbucks (Veronna) and have been using it for the last week. The taste is reasonable and doesn't taste at all like decaf. I do notice a difference in the coffee jitters. I don't know if my sleeping has improved but I'm told it should also be good for my heart. Now if I could just stay awake at 3:00 in the afternoon.